Demonetisation turned one-month-old on Thursday, but the hassles being faced by the public are far from over with the victims being not just the common man but also those representing him in Parliament.
After 30 days, reports of an ubiquitous cash crunch marked by interminable queues and empty ATMs read almost the same. During the period, some of the BJP parliamentarians have also had a taste of it.
Three MPs — two from the Rajya Sabha and one from the Lok Sabha — went to the bank to withdraw Rs 24,000 each — the maximum allowed to be taken out every week from banks currently.
Two of them were from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and one from the Janata Dal-United.
The bank officials, apparently facing a cash crunch, requested the three MPs to take out Rs 5,000 each, which they refused.
“This is the situation in the temple of democracy. Imagine what must be the situation in the remote corners of the country!” one of the three MPs told IANS, requesting anonymity.
Another BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh wondered how he can talk about the supposed benefits of the note ban to people in his constituency when he himself is suffering.
The all-round cash squeeze forced even the infirm to go and stand in lines for hours, which at times ended up in unfortunate incidents.
On Thursday, a woman, apparently in her 20s, fainted on suffering an epileptic seizure after standing in queue for some time.
The woman, who had an Aadhaar card in her hand, suddenly started feeling dizzy, convulsed and collapsed on the road. An IANS correspondent witnessed the incident and saw the woman having an epileptic seizure outside the Axis Bank near the Sector 16 Metro station.
A group of Good Samaritans stepped out of the queue and rushed to help her. Some of them began rubbing her hands and feet till she revived some 10 minutes later. She went back empty handed, not daring to risk it in the line again.
In the meantime, in Manipur, the struggle for survival for its residents continued since the high denomination notes ban.
Fifty-year-old N. Sanahanbi, a greengrocer, who is trying to run her kitchen and educate her children at the same time, said that since November 8 she has not been able to sell anything simply because customers have no low denomination notes and she does not have change for the Rs 2,000 note that some of them bring.
It is the same for Satyabati, a young mother, who was unable to withdraw money to pay monthly and examination fees of her three children and also have cash for family expenses.
She said: “We suspect that there is connivance even in the distribution of tokens. Although we come early in the morning, we are always informed that all tokens have already been distributed.”
A number of deaths — either in bank queues or in ATM lines — were also attributed to the cash-poverty that demonetisation has caused.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also tweeted: “One month since demonetisation was announced. More than 90 lives lost. How many more Modi Babu?”
The Opposition has not stopped attacking the Narendra Modi government over the issue even after a month of demonetisation. The controversies over demonetisation refuse to die down. The debate over currency ban in Parliament still continues.
However, amid strong attack by Opposition over demonetisation, PM Modi on Thursday took to Twitter to assert that the “short term pain” will pave the way for “long term gains” and insisted that farmers, traders and labourers stand to gain from this step.
However, if there are people who condemned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move, there are many others who laud it as a potent corruption killer.
“I have been using Paytm for transaction at my shop since months before the notes were banned. I am in favour of cashless transactions, and also advise other grocers to adopt the same method for transacting,” said Ravikant, a provision store owner in Harola village of Noida.
“Of course, there are times when it wouldn’t work, but nothing is perfect, after all,” he added.